“I was informed of the freeze, which is valid until further notice, of the station’s activities, but was not given any explanation other than the fact that foreign correspondents’ work is in the process of being reorganised and I could resume my activities afterwards,” Muhammad Dahu said on Wednesday.
Newspapers had speculated that the Algerian office would be temporarily closed down, saying that the authorities had “not appreciated” a debate aired on Aljazeera recently, questioning President Abd al-Aziz Butaflika’s national reconciliation programme.
Butaflika unveiled a “civil reconciliation” plan shortly after first coming to power in 1999, under which several thousand Islamists who had been fighting to oust the secular government since 1992 surrendered in exchange for partial amnesty.
The civil war that raged for the decade between 1992 and 2002, now sharply diminished, claimed at least 100,000 lives, according to official figures, and up to 150,000 by independent counts.
Fighters of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has been linked to al-Qaida, and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) have rejected Butaflika’s offer, but are thought to be weakening.
Butaflika renewed his call for national reconciliation before this year’s presidential election, which saw him overwhelmingly returned to office, largely because of his success in bringing Algeria’s civil war under control.
Other newspapers speculated that the suspension of Aljazeera’s activities was due to the coverage it gave to a blast at the Hamma power station in Algiers on 21 June.
The authorities have said the blast was probably accidental but it was later claimed by the GSPC, the country’s largest Islamist group.
Aljazeera broadcasts via satellite in Algeria where it has a large audience.